Germany: Bärbel Bas, an elected official unknown to the general public for the presidency of the Bundestag

The Germans will soon no longer have a Chancellor, but they will have a woman President of the Bundestag. Six weeks before Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) gives way to Olaf Scholz (Social Democratic Party, SPD) as head of government, Bärbel Bas was to succeed Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), Tuesday October 26 , at the head of the Chamber of Deputies. Since the founding of the Federal Republic in 1949, only two women have already held this post, the second in the order of state protocol: Annemarie Renger (SPD), from 1972 to 1976, and Rita Süssmuth (CDU), from 1988 to 1998.

Ten days ago, no one would have predicted such a fate for this elected 53-year-old, completely unknown to the general public. After the victory of the Social Democrats in the legislative elections of September 26, another personality was indeed a favorite: Rolf Mützenich, deputy since 2002 and head of the SPD group since 2019. Respected by all his parliamentary colleagues, this elected representative of Cologne, 65, was seen as the natural candidate to succeed Wolfgang Schäuble, with the presidency of the assembly traditionally being reserved for the party that won the election.

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One point in his CV, however, posed a problem: the fact that he was a man. In an open letter published on October 18, sociologist Jutta Allmendinger and Protestant theologian Peter Dabrock, former chairman of the National Ethics Committee, expressed concern that the Bundestag would once again be headed by a man.

“Politics has a role of model”

“If the“ traffic light ”coalition [SPD, Verts et libéraux du FDP] sees the light of day, this would mean that the five main positions at the head of state [présidences de la République, du Bundestag, du Bundesrat, et de la Cour constitutionnelle et chancellerie fédérale] will be occupied by men. (…) Politics, especially parties committed to the principle of equality, have a role model. This is particularly the case of the SPD which, historically and through its program, embodies progress. As such, he must therefore be particularly attentive to this kind of thing when it comes to the five highest functions of the State ”, could we read in this open letter.

After such a call to order, the candidacy of Rolf Mützenich became much more difficult to defend, especially since Olaf Scholz himself presented himself several times as a “feminist” during his own campaign. Within the SPD itself, the influential Social Democratic Women’s Working Group (ASF), founded in 1972, demanded that the party present a woman as a candidate to succeed Wolfgang Schäuble. “The SPD’s ‘program for the future’ promises a decade of equality. Words must match actions. That is why the presidency of the Bundestag must be occupied by a woman. We have, in our group, many wonderful and competent women for such a position ”ASF spokesperson Maria Noichl told RND press group on October 18.

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Germany: Bärbel Bas, an elected official unknown to the general public for the presidency of the Bundestag